Saturday, March 31, 2018

Holy Saturday

Like many Christians, I've been dwelling on Jesus' death and resurrection, particularly during this Holy Week.  On Good Friday, we commemorate Jesus' death, that He was faithful and obedient to the end.  Though perfect and not wanting to suffer the consequences of our sin, He did just that.  
"Now my soul is troubled.  And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour."  ~John 12:27
Then there's Easter where we celebrate His victory over not only death, but also the sin that He died for.  And being the glorious King that He is, His resurrection life is for all who believe in Him--that His death truly has paid for our debt to the Father because of our failure to live the way God told us to.

But what about today...I think we call it Holy Saturday.  For me, it's always been that in-between day where you don't celebrate anything.  You're just waiting for Easter to come, so there's a sense of suspense and anticipation.  And it should be, but I try to take myself back to the lives  of the original disciples.  It must've been a day of pure devastation, defeat, and disillusionment with thousands of questions.  What just happened?

And even though Jesus had told them ahead of time that He would rise again, how could such words bring hope when the reality of death stared them in the face?  The hours between "Friday's" death and "Sunday's" resurrection (don't really know which days) must've been agonizingly long.  

As I consider it all, I wonder how often we live in the "day after" of defeat and disappointment,"the point of no return"?  In my head, I know that I don't have to, but it takes faith to bring these things to the Cross where Jesus' death was not defeat at all, but the greatest act of love of all time.  At the Cross, what appears to be defeat is opportunity for Christ to overcome the impossible and to bring what is dead to life.

So, as Christians, we don't have to stay in the places of sorrow and disappointments that life brings. Instead, we should have tremendous hope because we know what happens next in the story!   We can actually bring these deaths and defeat that no one can rescue us from to the Cross, where our Lord, the Giver of Life is no more.  For the Christian, every day is Easter!  So, may we welcome His resurrection power and life into every area of our lives, so that the God that we celebrate at Easter will be glorified through us.  And may His purposes be fulfilled as we offer all of us to all of Him.
The entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection." ~Billy Graham
Alleluia, alleluia! The Lord is risen!                                                




Monday, March 26, 2018

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

"I don't know where I am,
 I don't know where I'm going,
But I know that You are with me."

How appropriate for these words (translated from German) to be on the screen in front of me.  When I arrived at the church a couple of minutes early--at least I thought--I could hear the voice of a German speaker coming from the sanctuary giving announcements as I saw a chalkboard that greeted me with "Herzlich Willkommen" in the hallway.  Strange...since the service was supposed to start in a minute or so and be in English.  There was a guy who looked like he'd also just entered and was waiting for a pause before he continued.  I asked, "Is this IPC?," the church that is supposed to meet there every Sunday evening except the last.  Nope, and yet I followed him in anyway, finding a seat by myself in the back.  My thoughts were racing with questions about what day of the week it was, what time of day, which Sunday of the month; but the answers all seemed on target as I joined in some of the songs in German, including the one with the words above.  It was almost comical to be singing this song, which I really like and can relate to on more levels than one.  After 20 minutes, the service ended; and I decided to slide out hopefully less conspicuously than I'd entered.  

As I exited the large, heavy door and began to cross the street, I noticed that the door of the reformed French church across the street appeared to be open.  It's where IPC meets in the mornings and the last Sunday of the month.  Without missing a beat, I walked in and heard the singing in English and joined the service that normally meets in the other building, but didn't tonight!   I would've felt bad for being 20 minutes late, but I wasn't the only one...and how could we know?


Image result for eglise reformee francaise de zurich
Photo by Roland from creativecommons.org

In fact, one lady came in 5 minutes before the service was over and asked to sit next to me.  Sure.  Then she wanted to share the bulletin to sing a really difficult hymn that I'd rather no one had heard me.  After both of us struggled through and I was feeling relieved to stop singing, she said what a beautiful hymn it was, ha!  As we chatted after the service, would you believe that though from South America, she once lived in Florida and attended Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church?  I told her that's where the organization I work with was founded!  We chatted about where she's lived and also where I've been and where I'm going.  Last night was one of those nights that the oddness of my life felt strong as I just got here and yet will leave again in a couple of weeks.  I suppose that He knew my thoughts and in His perfect ways, answered my prayer "to be in the right place at the right time" by getting me to what I considered the wrong place just so I could hear those words:


"I don't know where I am,
 I don't know where I'm going,
But I know that You are with me."





Congratulations!

I heard this all day long Saturday.  The first time I heard it, I broke into laughter.  I suppose that my three previous birthdays in Germany were with internationals or Germans who are so engrained in the American culture that they would've just said "Happy Birthday."  I knew that it was a German translation, but I still thought it was funny.  I was quickly reminded that I am in Switzerland.  After that, I graciously received the warm greetings with the pride that I suppose is due, for having made it to another year.  😊

It was a very early start to the day as I left the house at 7:30 to attend the bi-annual EE Schweiz (that's Switzerland) meeting.  It was nice to see some familiar faces and hear different people present what is happening in their region.  I got to catch up with Sandro, who is the one who will train the French speakers in May; with Manuela who has been leading a series of French trainings about once a month; and Tabea who I will train in some admin and also share a room with in Tirana next month.



Team Sharing

During announcements, the Swiss team presented me with a couple of gift cards to McCafe, which also made me laugh.  They then broke into "Happy Birthday" in English, which was really sweet.

I'm excited to see that they have macarons!

I had only a quick break at home, but being the rare gorgeous day that it was, I made sure to get out and even found a new path along a stream to enjoy.  As I walked, I thought back to a year ago when I had no way to get here, and now here I am.  It's important to celebrate what God has done especially when it becomes engulfed in the day in and day out that we lose sight of His hand at work.

Happy to Discover This Path

The evening was spent with my boss's family who had a surprise dinner with my neighbors who have become dear friends.  They spoiled me with with a Swiss meal of raclette with 5 different kinds of meats and of course lots of cheese and potatoes, salad, two desserts, and some Swiss gifts.  


I'm thankful for technology that allowed me to hear from friends and see my family, especially my twin, despite the distance.  It was such a blessing and made the day complete.  

And top it off, the "Powers That Be" decided to make it Daylight Savings time so that we now have an extra hour of daylight from here on out.  The Swiss sure do know how to make a birthday girl feel special. 😉


Friday, March 23, 2018

To Submit or Not To Submit...

That is the question...

Tuesday night I attended a French-speaking small group of a bilingual (Swiss German/English 🤔 ) church I've visited a couple of times.  It's so wonderful to be able to communicate with foreigners in a country where I don't speak the language.  I admit that I was super thankful I've been watching some French news and tv as it's been over a decade since I've lived in France and quite the while since I've been immersed even in a conversational French setting.

There was a time of open sharing about what the Lord has been speaking to us through His Word.  A girl in the group shared how that morning she opened to Esther, a book she's not currently reading, and what spoke to her was how Vashti's lack of respect and submission to her husband had the potential to affect the entire society and how we must realize that our actions also influence those around us.  (I realize this passage can be looked at in different ways, and some would argue is not at all a Biblical picture of the wife's role of submission to her husband).  But this is what she shared.

And I did think it was interesting how it matched with what I had read that morning.  My Bible Study group is studying Ephesians, and right now we just happen to be in Ephesians 5 which very clearly is on the Biblical principle and commandment for wives to submit to their husbands.  Easy for the single girl to write about, right?  (Don't worry, I have my own situations that require submission and constantly confront me with my sin nature which would like to rule rather than letting Christ!).  But something stood out to me that normally doesn't: verse 24.

"Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives
 should submit in everything to their husbands."

And the question that popped into my head was, "How are we doing, Church?"  As a body, are we submitting to Him?  It seems that more and more we see churches who are resisting and rejecting Christ's teaching and His position of authority.  The Church is the Bride; so, when the Church fails to submit to her Husband, what example is that to the world?  

The group leader made the connection between what each of us shared and how important it is for us to consider what messages we give to the world around us as Christians.  And I would add, in fear and trembling, that we say a lot by how we treat those in authority that we are called to submit to.

As if to really drive the message home, during a time of prayer at the end, the girl who had read Esther prayed that I would be submissive to the Lord and His will.  It surprised me a bit since the message I received felt more like a call and prayer for the Church at large to honor and respect Jesus as our Lord and Master; but I'm thankful and appreciate how she personally applied it to me since, after all, I'm the one God was speaking to about this.  Plus, I am a part of the Church and should be examining myself in how I am submitting to Christ both in my relationship with Him and in my relationship with others.  

As the Lenten season (time leading up to Easter) tends to be a time of introspection for the sake of prayer and cleansing, may we all have ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking to us as individuals and as the Church so that we will be ready when our Bridegroom returns for us.  And may we have hearts that yield and make way for the opinions and decisions of those with authority He has placed in our lives that may be different than we think or want.  Lord, have mercy upon us.






Saturday, March 17, 2018

One Step At a Time

I was Skyping with some friends this week who I haven't seen since I visited them a couple of summers ago.  At the time, the husband had been renovating their house.  When I asked him about the progress, his answer impressed me.  Well, it wasn't the answer so much as his perspective and attitude: it was coming along, but he didn't expect it to be finished for another 2-3 years.  Which seems very reasonable for a working dad of 3 and husband who regularly lends his hand in the kitchen.  Then I thought of the email I'd written earlier in the day, telling a man who was inquiring about Greek materials to check back in a year to see our progress.  I had felt so ridiculous writing such a thing in the 21st Century where waiting is a thing of the past.  But the reality is that there is a process to start the ministry in a new country: we have to find people, train them, including a native speaker who is qualified to translate the materials, translate, and then train the locals. 

Image result for Greece and steps
Taken from Antelope Travel website
The beauty is that this isn't just a mere human project, but we often see evidence of God's hand orchestrating people and events to bring together the right people at the right time.  So, within a day of the man who requested the materials, we had a conversation with a person trained in EE who has moved to Greece.  We still need the native speaker who can translate, but I reached out to the person requesting the materials to see if they know of anyone.  

Like many things in life, it takes time.  Thankfully one of the fruits of God's Spirit is patience.  He has fashioned our regenerated spirits to be able to withstand situations that require endurance and perseverance.  And since we have almost no training in this in our everyday lives, perhaps this is why He allows trials of various types that develop the patience needed for the things He's called us to wait for or that simply require time to develop--like my friends' house getting completed or having all the key people in place to begin the ministry in Greece.  

I think it's helpful to keep this perspective for the things that have been a long time coming.  And also to celebrate each phase of progress...one step at a time.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Manic Monday

On the days I work from home, I have control over my schedule.  Because it rains practically every day here, I plan my breaks for fresh air or errands when the rain stops.  One thing I've noticed about here more than anywhere I've ever lived --though Germany was close--is that you can't trust the forecast.  I don't know if it has to do with living at the base of the Alps, but it can change on you just like that.  The positive side is it doesn't always rain when it says it will.  The down side is that, as was the case today, 0% chance and cloudy went to 30-40% within about 20 minutes.  So, better get out while I could before the odds increased.

I normally do my grocery shopping at Aldi even though it's more of a hike because it's much more affordable; but I noticed that something I wanted was half off at Spar, the closest grocery store nearby.  So, getting just enough coins for my purchase, I headed there first.  As I lugged the 6-pack of mineral water to the checkout, the guy who worked there presumably asked me if I had a Spar card.  Well, no.  Of course, like most grocery stores (but not Aldi :), you need one to get the deals.  After a minute, I asked if he could please speak Hoch Deutsch?  Oh, naturlich, Hoch Deutsch.  So he did...I guess.  I know I'm out of practice, but my eyes started glazing over while he was basically explaining the whole process about how they feature certain items that have special, low prices for those who have a card; but you have to sign up. It's still not clear how you actually get the card, but I deduced that I could not get one right then and there since I asked to, and all that followed was the explanation with no pen and no form.  I apologized that I would leave without the water after all, which he pardoned and handed me a brochure about the card.  Somewhat relieved that I didn't have to carry the heavier-than-I'd-considered 9 liters home, I stopped back home to grab a bag, the sack full of empty plastic bottles and cardboard to recycle next to Aldi, and an umbrella...just to be prepared.

I was excited to try a new route I'd spotted from the train station yesterday, a fancy red bridge-like overpass to cross the highway.  Not that I needed to cross the highway, but who knew what was over there?  May as well explore on my walk to the store, right?  Just as I got halfway, the raindrops started falling.  Even though I was slightly annoyed that it was indeed raining despite the memo that it wouldn't, at least I had am umbrella and warm clothes, right?  And then the gusts came, blowing my umbrella inside out.  My hair which I loosened to put on my hat was frizzing with every second as I struggled to regain control of the umbrella.  After multiple failed attempts and struggling to pull my hood on with a handful of items as the rain fell a bit harder along with the wind, I was not a happy camper, tossing my worthless umbrella in a public trash bin.



As I arrived at Aldi, lo and behold, they have removed the receptacles that collect used bottles since I was here in the fall!  Really?  I scooted in the exit as a guy left so that I could at least recycle my few pieces of cardboard and set my bag of bottles next to it, undecided as to whether I would pick it up on my way out.  After I'd completed my shopping and was exiting, I had just gotten over my pride and worked up the ethical integrity to take my bottles back home when I noticed they'd already been removed (probably by a German.  They get money back in Germany. :). With the clouds looming above, I walked over to Takko, a clothing store, to ask if they had any regenschirm (umbrellas).  Nein, but Migros does.  I wasn't so sure how Migros would feel about me entering with a bag and hands full of Aldi groceries, so I peeked into La Halle, the shoe store, who thankfully also sell umbrellas.  And it's a good thing I got such a quick replacement because I needed it the first half of my walk home.  Just another manic Monday. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

There's No Place Like Home

This blog is part 3.  It's best to read Part 1 (I Love Prague) and Part 2 (When in Rome) first.

So, when I got to the airport in Rome...again...I went straight to the Vueling desk to get a flight.  It was around 1:00 or 1:30PM by this time.  When the lady told me their next flight was at 7:30 PM, my heart sank. When she said that I had to purchase the new ticket separately from the old ticket, I decided to check Swiss Air to see if they had anything earlier.  My mouth dropped when she quoted a price three times more expensive than Vueling, but that left in about an hour.  Vueling had been very kind and helpful the day before, I rationalized.  Maybe I should stick with them.  But without even thinking, I told the lady at Swiss Air that I was desperate and accepted the ticket!  She looked more surprised than me, and she doesn't even know how frugal I am.  

Feeling nervous that I may have a three-peat, I wanted as little time as possible to lose any more strength or to cave from the past few days' events.  A friend from my organization texted me "May Jesus give u super strength."   Yes, exactly what I needed!  And He did.  As soon as we got on the flight, they informed us there would be a delay and that the Zurich airport was currently closed because of the snow.  We still took off, and thankfully it did open again before landing, though we had to circle some.  About mid-flight, though, I had something horrible happen, another first-time experience: my ears hurt so bad, I thought my ear drums may burst!  I tried yawning, sipping, pretending to chew gum.  Nothing touched it.  And like so many times this trip, my prayers seemed hollow as though there were No one on the "other side."  Hurt, I still asked the Lord what to do.  That's when I placed my fingers on my neck below my ears.  I'm not sure what it did, but gave me a strategy till we landed, my ears completely clogged now.  But never mind, I was in Zurich!  Finally!  Like usual, I was greeted by none other than the one and only Roger Federer--or at least a video of him.  It's my favorite arrival anywhere. :). 


Thanks for the warm welcome, Roger :)


And, as to be expected, my bags were MIA.  But again, I didn't even care.  A friend picked me up to drive me home in the freshly fallen snow.  I arrived to a table-full of food, gifts, and white roses from my neighbors who are friends.  After showering and eating, I was ready for bed, but I wanted to thank God for getting me here safely.  And while I pray with pretty much any posture, this moment called for me to get on my knees before Him and acknowledge Him as the God that He is.  And as I thanked Him for the past week, my prayer became a poem, acknowledging His presence when I didn't feel or know it at the time.  And the tears I had held within both in Prague and in Rome were released.  He was there when I had felt so alone.  And all that money I couldn't believe I'd spent to get home, I realized that decision was guided by Him because even though I would've never spent it all on myself, He would spend whatever it takes to have gotten me back.  The last week was horrendous, something I don't wish to re-live, but one thing I know through it all: my Father in Heaven loves me.  More than a feeling.  More than an idea.  His love is so real all the time.  He is always with us, always offering to be "at home" in us.  There's no place like Home.


So Much Love

When In Rome

Note 1: It's best to read the previous blog "I Love Prague" before reading this one.  
Note 2: I think it's my longest blog post.

I don't think we had started descending yet when I started to feel a clammy, nauseous, fluttery feeling.  I had a window seat, which I had been thankful to rest my head, but now felt trapped.  I looked at the Italian girl to my right and asked her to push the button, that I needed help.  A male flight attendant quickly responded (God bless Vueling), and he was offering to bring cold compresses.  Even though I'd said yes, he was asking if I wanted to come with them.  I didn't, but next thing I knew the girls were making way for me to get out; and I was in the aisle, grabbing hold of one seat, two seats...  Then I remember looking up at the flight attendants staring back at me, realizing I was laying down in the aisle of the plane.  I was about to feel self-conscious when I realized it really didn't matter !  The man who helped me the most was actually not even a flight attendant, but a doctor on the flight.  He/they were so kind to me, and once he talked me to getting up and to a seat up front, he sat next to me for the duration of the flight.  They called the medical emergency crew at the airport and took me to the airport medical center by ambulance.

I only had a couple of hours between flights and wondered how far-fetched it was for me to make my connecting flight.  They took my vital signs and reacted at my high fever of 39...which didn't mean much to this American mind, despite my years abroad.  After a few attempts to communicate, they realized I was saying that Americans don't use Celsius and showed me the equivalent on their phone: 102.2.  They gave me a horse pill with a small glass of water; and even though I wasn't hungry, I asked for crackers and a drink, explaining I was nauseous.  

Just as I was thinking I may miss the flight--with an hour till take-off--they told me I could leave.  A lady I hadn't seen yet walked in and said I should have time to catch my flight if I ran.  Staring back at her, allowing ample time to correct the silly statement, I finally stated the obvious: "No, I can't run.  I don't know if I can walk."  (Two men had walked me in, one on each side).  "Is there a motorized vehicle or something that can help me?" Now looking annoyed, she impatiently responded, "There is nothing else we can do for you."  With that, she had me sign some papers, walked me outside the door into the night air, explaining in broken English how to walk to Terminal 3, several hundred yards away, on the other side of the overpass.  This is the second time on the trip I wanted to cry.  More like break down and sob like a baby; but I knew it would only waste precious time and wouldn't help.  So I continued, each step getting me closer to Terminal 3.

Not only did I arrive, but I made it through security and to my gate, somewhat relieved, somewhat annoyed that the flight was delayed.  But alas, we boarded a half-empty plane; and it was just as the flight attendants began giving safety instructions when that all-too-familiar clammy, wave of nausea started threatening; and I knew I needed help.  I was having an internal debate between waiting for the man to finish talking before I interrupted him and motioning him for help anyway since it was an emergency, and that's what he's there for.  The longer I waited, the harder it was to stay awake; but I managed to get his attention as he walked toward the back of the plane.  And round two of attracting a lot of attention as I struggled to answer their questions, and the nausea gave way; and I got sick before take-off, a first time ever for me.  I asked to lay down over the 3 seats.  Sure.  And then a very kind flight attendant who spoke very good English informed me that the pilot didn't want to take any risks and was turning the plane around.  Okay.  And for the second time that day, I was escorted off the plane to an ambulance in Rome.  Did I mention it's my first time to Rome?

The lady told me it was the flu and that staying in a hotel would be better because I would have to wait a really long time at the hospital.  Thinking out loud, I said that I was nervous to be alone after passing out twice in one day.  Then she said something in Italian to the man; and next thing I know, the siren is on, taking me to the ER.  The kind man squeezed my hand before leaving me in a waiting room full of gurneys and said, "Don't worry.  You are in good hands here."

I'm glad he told me so because nothing I experienced the next 28 hours would indicate that to be the case.  As I waited an hour or two to be seen, I tried to get my phone to work and contact people, but the reception is very spotty there in case you ever go.  When a man wheeled me back to take my blood, I thought he was slicing my entire forearm and digging around quite roughly.  I've never had such painful blood work!  Then, he looked at me, saying "I'm sorry.  That's Code Red.  You need to wait.  I'll come back...20 minutes, an hour."  I didn't time him.

What seemed like an eternity later, someone else fetched me, wheeling me into a room lined with gurneys everywhere.  I didn't know at the time, but after the CT scan, I would stay there till the next morning.  I've never been in such a hell-like place, where everyone is moaning and crying out for help, but being ignored (not that the nurses weren't working nonstop).  I suppose you get jaded after a while.  And I couldn't decide who to be more concerned for that I had the flu: them or me!  Though it sounded like I wasn't the only one who had a few germs to share.  Then again, hygiene and sanitation didn't seem to be of utmost concern based on their hall restrooms with no soap, no paper towels, and urine on the floor along with the way that they put the gurneys right next to each other.


The only pic I got in Rome: my view of the ceiling in the ER


After asking for water multiple times, I was finally brought a couple of cups early morning, by the kind nurse who was at least willing to look up a few phrases in English because apparently no one speaks English in Rome...or French...or German for that matter.  (And on the rare occasion that they did, they weren't the person with authority to answer my questions).  I didn't know where to tell anyone at home where I even was.

Finally around 7:00AM or so, I had an idea: I was searching everything to see if the name of the hospital was written anywhere.  No, but I decided to ask the lady to my right since  she, unlike the overburdened staff, had all the time in the world.  Though she also did not speak English, French, or German, she understood my question as I mimed a few things and was able to type the name of the hospital into my phone for me: Grassi.

Around 8:30 or 9:00AM, after a packet of jelly and two cups of tea, the nurse let me have two Zweiback crackers with another packet of jelly as long as I ate them very slowly.  Si.  Grazi.  At 10, the doctor came to report all normal tests, and by noon I was discharged.  Which sounds like glory in such a scary place that I was so ready to leave, but I had no idea where to go or how to get there.  A lady had given me false hope that they would call the consulate for me, but now as I blinked back the tears, I felt so helpless yet again.  I returned to my gurney and waited until finally a male nurse called a taxi for me and walked me to the exit where he would arrive.

That's as much of Rome as I saw: a few residential areas and some ancient ruins (I verified with the taxi driver that they were indeed ancient ruins) that lie between Fiumicino Aeroporti di Roma and Ospedeallero G.B. Grassi.  As as I was taking in the fresh air that was seeping in the cracked window of the taxi, I realized I had left the hospital without paying!  Could this trip get any worse?  But come to find out, a trip to the ER--at least from the plane is free...when in Rome.


I Love Prague


The morning I left for Prague, I woke up without a place to stay and realizing that two of my flights said they required a Visa.  In case you don't know me, the non-procrastinator/think-of-everything-ahead-of-time type, that was super stressful.  And while I'd like to say I calmly met the day as I trusted the Lord, that wasn't how it went.  But with Jesus as our model who asked a few who were close to Him to pray in His hour of need, I asked some to pray for me and was relieved to have all matters resolved within a short period of time.  Wasn't the stress-free day at the beach I'd planned, but I made the flight.

When I arrived the next day after a frigid flight and stopover in Portugal, it was evening.  I don't speak Czech, and the Uber driver didn't speak English...and he was lost.  I finally showed him the phone number of the host, who he called at work; and we were across the street!  It took me forever to figure out the code, and when I finally got inside, I was met with the daunting realization that they lived up three flights of narrow, winding stairs.  But at least a shower and bed awaited me...as did jet lag.

Where I Stayed the First Couple Nights

The next day, just as I got downstairs to venture out, the zipper to my new coat jammed so that I couldn't get into my pocket which contained the apartment keys and my phone.  This is the first time I wanted to cry on the trip.  Sounds silly, I'm sure, but it was the compounding of everything adding up.  Thankfully, I got the zipper down--and never back up--nor did I put anything valuable back inside.  I followed my host's instructions to find the Metro station and made it into the old city.  So cold, so beautiful!

City
The next morning, got all my luggage down the stairs and made it to the place I was meeting the EE team.  It was such an honor and joy meeting everyone, hearing their stories, and getting to share mine.  We ate a meal together, then went to a shopping center for outreaches.  Then I met once more with the leader before heading on to the pension where the SAMS retreat would be.

EE Team in Prague

Cute room with a view, but where was that draft coming from?  Good thing for wool blankets and the fleece headband my dad gave me before I left.  I'd need them the next couple of nights.  Sunday a few of us visited the Anglican Church, so cold that we kept gloves, scarves, and hats on the whole time and were still cold!  I was so encouraged by the preacher's sermon and time of fellowship afterward, which ran into mid-afternoon.  

St. Clement's Anglican Church


Monday was a full day of retreat with prayer, small groups, big group.  I ventured with some of the men who were braving the sub-zero temps before dinner to walk the Charles Bridge and visit the Lennon Wall.  Then we had dinner in a nice Czech restaurant.  When I came back to my room, I was so encouraged to have the heat working properly and wouldn't even need the space heater they had kindly offered me to use!

And it was incredible timing because I would spend the next 2.5 days until my departure there in bed...with the flu! :(  The day I left, I felt somewhat better--without the aches, but depleted of energy and strength.  I was full of thanks to have an extended checkout and help with my bags.  The Uber driver arrived the second I did, so I didn't have to wait in the cold.  The guy checking in people in the line next to me was making every person fit their carry-on into the very small wire basket shaped like a piece of luggage and telling them it was too big.  My flight attendant offered to check in both bags--carry-on included--for free, all the way to Zurich...which meant I wouldn't have to lug them, praise God!  (They usually offer this at the gate, not check-in). 

I actually sported the mask my mom gave me when I reached security since it was getting crowded.  Once I made it through,  I noticed a sign for a prayer room upstairs, which was the perfect empty place to rest until they listed our gate location.  Unfortunately I never heard the initial boarding call, only the final!  So, I hurried across the airport to the gate, getting to miss the line, hearing them call my name as I walked through the jetway.  

Prague...mmm...I'm glad I went despite the chaos and challenges.  I think once some time passes, I'll have only sweet memories and would love to go back one day...in the summer.  And perhaps then I can honestly say "I love Prague."  :)

Prague is known for its Bohemian Crystal